By Bekah Stoneking
The world is riddled with fear right now. Fear of sickness. Fear of death. Fear of economic loss. And the list goes on.
No one is immune to these fears. However, for the single people in your congregation, we’re grappling with these fears—plus some.
I’m a single woman. I’m also a church member who has many friends and is active in kids ministry. As we self-quarantine and comply with local stay-at-home orders (as I hope you are), it’s critical for church leaders to understand the extra set of concerns single adults grapple with.
A heightened sense of loneliness
It’s hard being away from loved ones during this crisis for married people, even though they have each other. It’s another thing navigating a pandemic alone: having to make decisions on my own (without counsel, without someone to talk it out) and not having anyone to process thoughts and feelings with.
Pray for us at night when we’re not only alone, but extra isolated because it’s too late for phone calls. Send texts, initiate video chats, and send fun GIFs and memes. These are small things, but they add up to a big positive impact on our mental and emotional state.
Not having solidarity with others
I don’t have someone to fight for me or to protect me; no one built in I can go to for shelter or support. I’m pretty strong and self-sufficient, but this pandemic reinforces my aloneness and increases my vulnerability.
Dealing with a crisis by yourself is hard.
Not having needs met
Yes, being locked up with a spouse or with kids (and trying to balance work on top of that) is difficult. For people whose lives are spouses and kids, being alone for a few days sounds nice. I even enjoy totally alone, silent, still days.
But weeks on end with no option for reprieve when we were made for community and relationships is a level of pain and stress I’ve never had to bear; will I have what I need? I will be financially okay (hourly singles won’t be), but will I have supplies?
I can’t share the burden if I don’t have someone to help cover me—to help me think through all that needs to be done.
One way church leaders or others in the congregation can help mitigate this fear might be as simple as asking singles if they need anything when they go on grocery runs (whether they’re immunocompromised or not). Sometimes it’s nice to not have to do everything by yourself and for yourself.
An exacerbated feeling of helplessness
If tragedy strikes (personally or to a loved one), we’re alone. For me, personally, there’s a lot of potential for tragedy right now: my mother is a nurse, and my dad is immunocompromised. And, they live several hours away. I’m worried about my parents and grandmothers out of state.
Church leaders and other congregation members can offer to be the “2 a.m.-er”—even if you can’t physically help; just being available to be on the phone will give us peace of mind.
Ideas for singles (because we have a responsibility to one another, too.)
- Remember one another, use Voxer, text, video chat, etc. to stay in touch.
- Share bulk food purchases. For example: Shopping at Costco makes sense in a time like this, but not necessarily if you’re single. Can you break bulk packages and share among friends so nothing goes to waste?
- Consider that the specific pain points you feel may be being felt by others. When you feel it, reach out and try to answer that pain for someone else.
- Use video chat to read to your friends’ kids or to teach a skill.
- Following WHO/CDC guidelines, meet up for walks in the neighborhood.
- Engage in online or phone games.
- Create beauty for others to enjoy: Create moments for community (everyone sits on their porch at the same time, mailbox-decorating contest, put your Christmas lights back up, etc.). I’ve been really moved and inspired by the balcony-singing videos and virtual choir compilations!
Before I conclude, here are some final reminders:
Not all singles have the same needs.
Singles aren’t homogenous. Single college students, young professionals, older singles, single parents, and widows all come with different sets of needs. Don’t assume based on one view of singlehood.
Resist the urge to make comparisons.
This isn’t the time to suggest that the grass isn’t always greener or to compare and see who has the most pain and stress. Some singles may actually not be wishing for human contact and welcome the idea of locking ourselves away for weeks.
This isn’t a time to compare in either direction. It’s a time to see and serve.
Don’t make assumptions.
If we’re relatively young and healthy, we’re probably going to slip through the cracks. And to a degree, this is okay—there are other members of the community who need to be triaged higher. But don’t assume we’re covered because we’re healthy, unencumbered, or “just one person” to provide for.
Families and married couples have people built in to carry the stress with you. We don’t. We’re all on our own—even more so when the doors are closed for isolation.
Please don’t forget about us.